Tigger Travels - Family Adventure Journal
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The Paris Metro
Is it good and how do I use it?
I have been riding in subways, metros and u-bahns since I was young. I have been in some bad ones and I have been in good ones. So trust me when I say, the Paris Metro is GREAT!
First off, on our way over to Europe on the two week cruise, more than once people expressed their shock that we had not already purchased our metro tickets and acted like we would be left on a deserted train platform forever wondering if we ever even got to the right hemisphere. BUNK!
You can get your Metro, RER or any other tickets at most appropriate train stations. Here is some information. Some of it is only valid now, other parts of this have been valid since the first time I was in Paris nearly 20 years ago.
As of this date, a single ride ticket is about $1 US depending on the exchange rate. If you plan to use the public transit much, this is the worst deal. The next best deal we found is the 10 trip packet. It is almost half of a full fair per trip and you use one ticket per ride, whether it is Metro or Bus. If you are not going many places (1 or two a day) this is a good deal.
We planned 5 days of our stay to be packed with lots of trips. This brings us to the Paris Visite ticket. This is great deal if you are going to use the Public Transit (this includes the buses). One price gets you on all the metros and buses you want to take and as often as you wish for 5 days starting with the first usage. Now the children's tickets are cheaper. They will say Enfant on them.
Do not try to cheat the system though. We saw a possible disaster. One family thought they could just use the Paris Visit ticket and hand it through to the next member of their family to use. They tried to use one ticket for the whole family. What they quickly learned is that when you use a Paris Visit ticket, even though it is unlimited use, you cannot use it again in the same place right away. To get their family of 4 through that gate would have involved a half hour wait to reuse it again at the same place.
Also, people try to cheat and jump over the gates. You will turn a corner and find a squad of RATP officers checking tickets with hand readers. The fine for cheating like this is nearly $100. Just get the ticket... k?
I don't know about the Paris visite, but you can get the other tickets at any booth, automated or manned. The ticket machines offer English language as a choice on the second screen. Don't panic, you have to get to the second screen first then change the language selection to English at the bottom. That is illustrated by the British flag.
You may be asked about Zones. There are a lot of Zones, but nearly everything is in zone 1 and 2. This will get nearly all of the Paris sites. It does not include Disneyland Park (zone 5) or anything further like our trip to Chantilly. For that you can go to any RER station and go from there.
After tickets, the next thing you need is a map. You and get a Paris Tourisme map at many of the ticket booths. I got our first and main street-map of Paris at our local Barnes and Noble in the US. It included a Metro map in the corner. We bought one at a MonoPrix that detailed all the bus routes, too.
When looking at any map, you first need to know where you are. Next you need to know where you are going. Once you have found the route to get you there (Metro OR bus), you need to know the END POINT of the route in the direction you need to go. That will be on the Metro or Bus sign you catch. Also, the number of the line will be important. That will get you anywhere.
We spent 3 days in the metro and started to feel a bit claustrophobic. We decided to catch all buses and in the process we saw a lot more Paris in one day than we had the previous 3 days. It was great.
Date taken: 2007 06 24 16:00 Sunday
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